Retrograde Movement: Its Meaning in Astrology



Viewed from Earth, planets sometimes appear to recede in the sky, as if they are reversing orbit. Retrograde motion slows things down, this phenomenon being known as retrogradation. On an astrological chart, a retrograde planet is represented by an “R”. Its effect is to direct energies inward, making them less conscious, or reflecting karmic obstacles (past events).

The effect of retrograde motion is most evident in transits. A retrograde planet can transit (that is, appear to pass over) a certain degree of the Zodiac up to three times. Each time this happens, the influence of the retrograde planet becomes more evident, as if a learning or opportunity presents itself more and more intensely until it is perceived.

This energy can be better exploited when a retrograde planet becomes “direct”, that is, it begins to move forward.

A retrograde planet indicates the need to review the matters it governs. The retrogradation of Mercury is the strongest, since this is the planet that governs thought, ideas, communication, exchanges and negotiations, transfers and other practical matters that affect all people.

The effect of retrograde movement

Retrograde motion slows things down. This type of movement can mean that a planet crosses the same point up to three times, thus intensifying the process related to this planet. There are three opportunities to understand the challenge or benefit of traffic. The first time, the initial crisis is experienced; in the second, as the transiting planet “recedes” through the transited planet, perception increases and action begins; when the planet advances again, the crisis is resolved and the solution is found.

When the planet goes retrograde or direct, it “parks”, that is, it appears to stand still for a moment for one degree. If this degree is sensitive in the birth chart, the effect of stationary traffic will be enhanced.

Nature of Planetary Transits

The time it takes for planets to transit other planets or angles varies and can have different effects.

Planets in Astrology

  • Sun - Identity, individuality, father
  • Moon - Instincts, subconscious, mother
  • Mercury - Mindset, communication, siblings, travel
  • Venus - Love, romance, camaraderie, values, woman
  • Mars - Action, sexuality, man, brother, desire
  • Jupiter - Wisdom, vision, expansion, conviction, space
  • Saturn - Challenge, concentration, time, restraint
  • Uranus - Originality, renewal, revolution, eccentricity
  • Neptune - Transcendence, spirituality, illusion, suffering
  • Pluto - Transformation, humiliation and power, underworld
  • Chiron - Wounds and rebirth
  • North Node - Destination, collective, future potential
  • South Node - Past Karma, Deep Experience, Lessons Learned.